Saturday, July 31, 2010

To be continued....

In keeping with the drama theme, I'm going to show you color #8 on this new linocut, and you're going to have to wait an ENTIRE WEEK for two more colors and the conclusion. Tomorrow morning I am off to workshop nirvana and I'm not even going to THINK about the computer until I get back. At least not if I can help it.

It's a cliff hanger, all right.

So here we are, doing things "they" don't expect... like adding back a lighter color after we've been getting progressively darker. Think of it as a plot twist. I liked the way the leaves were going, but decided I really wanted some lighter center veins... and the bird's perch wanted to be lighter... and... well.... I really wasn't ready to commit to that darker color just yet.

You know how it is.

I'm down to just a few more things on the "to do before departure" list, which is a bit surprising considering we had an unexpected plumbing fiasco again this morning. (The last one, you may recall, was Thanksgiving Day!) Oh, the joys of old house plumbing and even older town plumbing. Apparently all three houses on this corner are hooked together (SO not to code now). If one goes down, we all go down sooner or later.

We've also had the good fortune to be on the race route for the Salida Omnium, which means that we can't park our cars near the house today. Not a problem except that today I had to take down a show and this evening David has a gig at the cafe. (Oh, and the little matter of getting the plumber here, too.) Great fun toting artwork and music gear down the street whilst dodging cyclists!

Eat your popcorn and talk amongst yourselves. I'll see you all back here in a week, with a workshop report and all kinds of new ideas. Yippee!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Book Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to Rebecca, who was comment-leaver #6 for the "Drawing Lab for Mixed Media Artists" giveaway. Rebecca, please send your mailing address to me (sy (at) and we'll get your book in the post to you.

My sincere thanks to everyone who stopped by to play this week, and thanks for taking some time to look at what I'm up to and offer such nice feedback. Thanks, too, to those of you who are sticking around now to see what sort of trouble we can get into at Brush and Baren.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Potential disaster builds

Okay, I'll admit it. I'm having fun playing up the Linocut Drama Theatre here because I know how the story ends and I know I won't be mortified and embarrassed by public failure. This time. You guys already got to see me make an irretrievable mess once this year. Don't go expecting it all the time.

So here we are at colors... wait, where are we? Oh, right. Six and seven. A bright green and a blue.

And here's where the risk I took with sloppy imprecise inking* on the previous layer became potentially problematic. The color below bled through.

This actually happened for a couple of reasons. The first is that the new, lighter color was a bit more transparent than the one below, so it didn't cover as well. The second is that I didn't really wait long enough for that olive green layer to dry, and I got a little "wet rejection."I decided to cross my fingers and hope that some of this bleed-through might actually improve subsequent steps.

(Theatrical aside: *About this sloppy imprecise inking. I feel I must explain that it was more or less on purpose. I didn't want solid, even shapes for this image... I was trying to experiment with something a little more "painterly" to see if I could get away with it. The impatient wet-rejection thing was just a personality defect.)

Forced slow-down ensued. I went off and worked on any number of other things for a while.

Of course, you all saw what happened when I came back. I had taken the margin shims out of my registration jig for another project and forgot to put them back in when I returned to this one. The first print I dropped onto the block was not precisely where it was supposed to be.

Good thing I made extras.

I save some of these boo-boos, you know. Chop 'em up and they make interesting collage bits for cards and such.


Dryness factor overcome and jig readjusted, color 7 went down without too much trouble. I was still feeling pretty uncertain at this point. My in-my-head-only-design called for a fairly dark background and I just wasn't sure how it would all work out. This is the time in almost every reduction print when I find myself entertaining thoughts of cutting a separate block for each color. It could go either way... and as the curtain closes on this scene, the orchestra is playing something half hopeful and half ominous.

At intermission the clown reminds us that today is the last day to jump in and comment for a chance to win "Drawing Lab for Mixed Media Artists."  Now go get some popcorn. I'll hold your place in line for the restroom and I'll see you back here later.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

More risky lino behavior

When colors 4 and 5 (already!) went down on this new linocut I was still engaging in that risk-laden, poorly-defined inking behavior. Ooooh! I'm such a rebel.

Of course it almost always comes back to bite me in the behind when I do this, and I'm on a deadline, and I have other deadlines for other projects looming, too.... but does that make me slow down and plan? Noooooooooooooo. Of course not.

Fans of the class Aves should actually be able to identify this critter already. Or at least come close. But please, keep it to yourselves. It's still a secret.

I'm a little embarrassed, actually, to be posting these steps. Brush and Baren has recently acquired a spate of new readers, and I hate for them to think I'm this much of a process slob all the time. Please, please stick around. The veteran readers can tell you it's usually not this...

Oh, who are we kidding? It's a madhouse around here most of the time. But welcome, anyway.

In other news, I unpacked my new woodcutting tools last night and promptly cut my finger. It's a good reminder to pack some band-aids for my workshop next week, don't you think?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Step-by-step: New linocut commission

Some weeks ago I was approached by a non-profit organization with which I have had a long relationship. They were looking for someone to create an original piece of art for an annual award... an award that honors both the recipient and the person for whom it is named.

I am FAIRLY certain that this year's recipient is not a reader of this blog (different field of interest), but since I don't know who it is, I can't be sure. And there's always that "lurker" business... so although I'd love to introduce both organization and award to you, I think I need to wait for that until the presentation is made.

Still... I'm anxious to share the process. This particular piece was a bit of a departure from the linocut work I've been doing lately, and I had some very scary moments in the later color pulls. Drama is good, right? So we'll get started... I'll let it unfold in the usual way, although I actually know how it all turns out (for once). Phew!

First three pulls... done in a bit of haphazard inking. (aka: Risky procedure #1.) But you can already guess what it might be...

Don't forget that you can leave a comment on yesterday's post for a chance to win a copy of "Drawing Lab for Mixed Media Artists." Deadline is Thursday, July 29 at midnight Mountain Time.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Another giveaway! (Really? YES!)

It's been one of those blink-and-you'll-miss-it summers, hasn't it? Seems as though it was still snowing a few weeks ago and suddenly we're staring August in the face. What the heck happened?

Well, linos happened. And workshops happened. And contracts happened.

And books happened.

One of the books that happened this summer is "Drawing Lab for Mixed Media Artists" by my friend Carla Sonheim. Carla and her family lived here in Salida for several years, but are now enjoying the big city life in Seattle. Before they left, Carla honored me by asking if I would contribute to a book project she had in progress! I happily agreed to do an "assignment" for the book, which later expanded to a couple of the book's 52 fun exercises.

"Drawing Lab" was released at the beginning of July, and Carla has been hosting a book party all month at her blog, Snowball Journals. Book contributors like me were invited to join in, and Carla has graciously offered to give a copy of "Drawing Lab" away to one of Brush and Baren's readers! How cool is that? (Oh, you guys are getting so SPOILED!)

So here we go again! Leave a comment on this post between now and this Thursday, July 29. I'll pick a random winner on Friday and put that person in touch with Carla for book delivery.

I dunno why, but seeing a photo of a stack of my sketchbooks makes me really happy.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Back on track

Okay, then! Door prize winners, I'm pleased to report that I went back to the original plan and you have a bonafide little lino headed your respective directions! I can't remember if I whined about the woes of this simple-idea-gone-bad... last color going on and everything falling apart and all that jazz. I put together something else last week but wasn't happy with it, either... OH, the trouble I get myself into!

But this morning I was having good print success as I put the last color on the commission-to-be-introduced-later, so I pulled out the unfinished bits from before and managed to get something passable done. So.... door prizers... expect a little swallowtail in the mail this week. It ain't great art, but it IS great gratitude.

Transformative, 2.75 x 3.75 inches

So much drama for a little bitty thing.

But that's the way things are right now! All about drama! I finally found some meds on Friday that zapped the last of my symptoms. That was the good news. They also kept me awake all night, which wasn't so great, but today I am pleased to report that it was just what I needed to get over the hump towards recovery. Today I feel mostly human. Amazing.

And just in time, too! So much will be happening here on Brush and Baren this week! Unveiling of lino, assorted ranting about who-knows-what, AND another giveaway. Tomorrow. Monday. Be here. Seriously. Not kidding.

And why, you might ask, am I suddenly throwing so much into the blogosphere? Because, beloved friends and blogonauts, I (drumroll please) will be gone all NEXT week to a woodcut workshop! I am ecstatic to report that I was awarded a scholarship to spend the first week of August at Anderson Ranch Arts Center near Aspen (yes, that Aspen) studying with Jean Gumpper! If you don't know Jean's work, well, I encourage you to add it to your list.


Public confession time.

I have never actually taken a relief printing class.


I've been hunting for a couple of years (!) for a workshop opportunity within reach and was delighted to learn about this one. I feel oh-so-fortunate that the stars have aligned to make it possible for me to attend. An entire week of learning. All day. Every day.

Oh. My.

So. Expect somewhat manic activity here this week as I twitch with anticipation. Then a week of silence. And THEN?!?! Who knows where we'll go from here!

New homes for linocuts

Since I seem to be on such a posting roll at the moment, I thought it would be nice to mention that several linos have found new homes in the past few weeks. My sincere thanks and hopes for a long and happy art relationship to new linocut collectors.

Coastal Pines (at left) went off to a new wall in Nebraska.

Two of the edition of Decay, Comma found homes... one in Ohio and one here in Colorado.

A tiny Lynx and a tiny Mussel Shells went tripping across the pond to Norway and England.

FIVE of the edition of Deep are now scattered across the globe!

And at the end of this week, another Early Snow - Ponderosa Pine will be off to be a birthday present for a lucky local.

Hm. My work seems to get around more than I do. I think I need to work on that!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Oops. Again.

Note to self: Apparently sinuses are not the only part of your head presently functioning outside normal parameters.

Nice colors, though.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Door prize redux

Smiles in the garden, at least!

Three weeks ago (!!!) we celebrated the 500th Postiversary of Brush and Baren, and things have been, let's face it, a tad lame around here ever since.

It's been a frustrating few weeks. I am STILL not completely past the viral-whatever-it-is that knocked me down at the beginning of the month and it's doing a number on my energy level. I have multiple projects going on simultaneously, but OOPH. Nothing's going quite the way I'd like.

Case in point: Those door prizes I promised to the first 10 well-wishers on the Postiversary. They were almost done when I made the announcement and then went irretrievably wrong. The new incarnation is just about ready to roll, but I hesitate to show it until it's completely finished. I'm feeling superstitious about "jinxing" it. In the meantime, however, will Canicas, Marissa, Tracy T.,  Wendy W., Erin N., Robyn and Mike W. please send your mailing addresses to sy (at)! (Margie, Susan and Diane, I already have your addresses.) My goal is to be ready to send your little door prizes off by Monday next week. Whew!

Monday, July 19, 2010

If it's Monday I must be... home!

Pile of laundry from the suitcase, check. Pile of art supplies from the trunk of the car, check. Pile of paperwork to sift through, check.

Yup. Home.

 There's one in every crowd. While most of Friday's field class gathered in the shade to try to tackle a sketch of the Great Big View, where was Alan? In the sun, facing the other way, of course. You go, Alan!

The Crested Butte Wildflower Festival was fabulous fun, as always. Something about this venue always seems to attract the nicest participants, people from all across the country with an interest in both wild and cultivated landscapes. You know you're with "your peeps" when everyone says "OOOh, look at THAT!" at the same time.

Today will be about getting myself back up to speed... you know, all that administrative stuff that has to happen. One of the more rewarding tasks on the list for this afternoon, though, is matting up three more prints that have sold from the Creede National Small Print Show!

I expect to get things wrapped up for the 500th Postiversary giveaway in the next couple of days, and then it's time for another drumroll... should I start a new mystery countdown? Summer! It's just one thing after another...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Postcard from the Butte

I'm perched on top of an unmade bed in a swanky condo in a mountain resort... cool glass of tea at my side... laptop in my lap. And I have the audacity to call this working!

Okay... truthfully, it's the quiet moment at the end of a challenging two weeks. When we last heard from our hero she was "coming down with some sort of cold/flu thing." That cold/flu thing quickly deteriorated to a nasty sinus infection which, three days before the start of an intense teaching week, sent me to the doctor with a plea for miraculous healing. Yikes.

The doctor declared me "yucky" and handed me an armload of pharmaceutical wonders. Ordinarily I try to avoid such things (my last trip to the doc was in 2006), but desperate times called for desperate measures.

 Bob from Montrose, pouring over his sketchbook at Crested Butte.

Thus fortified I arrived here in Crested Butte feeling functional, at least, and have been delighted once again to have great groups of enthusiastic, engaged, and FUN students at the Wildflower Festival. Thank you so much, students "old" and new... it has been so rewarding to work with all of you.

I've got one more day to go before I head back over the Continental Divide to home and all the other projects that were neglected last week when I was on "sofa arrest." I haven't forgotten about the door prizes I owe folks from the 500th Postiversary party, and there are plenty of other projects waiting for my attention, too. (I don't know about you, but I'm feeling like it's been WAY too long since any ink has smudged this space.)

 But first I'm going to go have another look at some wildflower-saturated hillsides.

Having a great time, wish you were here.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

And we have a winner

Congratulations to Dinah at More Idle Thoughts, who is the winner of "Deep"! Dinah's in Australia, where it actually IS winter right now, so it seems extra-appropriate to send it her way. Dinah, pop your address to me at sy (at) and I'll get it in the post to you!

As for door prizes, there's been a bit of a snag. On Monday I came down with some sort of wretched cold/flu thing and have been moving quite slowly when I've been moving at all. I still intend to have those together for you all before I leave on Monday for workshops at Crested Butte. (Yes, I am QUITE annoyed to be so under the weather right before a big teaching week.) But I'm moving quite a bit slower than intended.

Thanks again to all of you for chiming in with good wishes and cheer at Brush and Baren's 500th Postiversary. (And my brother Steve's 45th birhday!) I'm planning to repurpose your positive energy as healing vibes, hope that's okay with all of you!

I'll pop back in when I can a) think straight b) swallow without pain and c) breathe. Argh. Getting sick in JULY is ridiculous. Not to mention insulting and highly inconvenient. Anybody know where the official protest office might be located?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Leafy Testaments

Thanks everyone, for all the 500th Postiversary wishes and for brother Steve's birthday greetings. Both of us have been delighted and honored by everyone's response. We've still a couple of days to go before Deep is bestowed on a random comment-leaver, so jump on in at the previous post.

The journey of the next 500 posts begins with a single entry, so to accommodate my need for a blog topic I took down one show on Thursday and immediately installed another yesterday. Thankfully I have patient and competent friends willing to help with such an expedition, since the Darling Man I usually boss around work with during such adventures was off having fun of his own. (Can you say "flat tire on the way to a gig"?)

Were it not for J. and R. I think I'd still be at the Salida Café trying to decide what piece to hang where. I arrived early in an attempt to have all the decisions made before the muscle arrived but for some reason was completely stymied. The support team brought energy, good eyes, and good humor to the afternoon and turned a challenging installation into plain old fun. (Although I still think that one needs to go a half inch to the right. Don't you agree? Snort.)

We were almost finished when I decided I needed to put one more large piece on the last wall, so I ran home and got Cottonwood to add to the collection.

Cottonwood is one of several images of iconic Chaffee County trees that I have created in the last few years. For many decades, perhaps a century or more, this stately cottonwood served as a graceful landmark along CR 301 near Buena Vista. It wasn't until we were about to hang the piece that I learned the tree was cut down earlier this year to accommodate the pipeline for a new Nestle water bottling plant. It was crushing news-- one more turn of the screw for the many members of this community who fought hard against the establishment of the facility at all.

Inside my sadness over the loss of this tree, though, I am finding a whispered reminder of why I do the work I do. I try to pay attention. I try to be a witness. Drawings, paintings, and linocuts are my testimony. It's good to get it down on paper now. It might not be there the next time I look.

Not to end on a bummer, though... Look what else I discovered yesterday.

Actually, this was the second hummingbird nest of the morning, the other is barely 100 yards away on the underside of the highway bridge. I imagine that one's like an apartment next to the railroad tracks, but this one is a cool refuge in the country. (Yup, I am definitely having fun with the new camera.)

The moral of Post 501? Simple.

Be a witness. Testify. It's good for all of us.

One more leafy testament

Fresh local produce AND clever bag design? Kale yeah! 
Our farmers are the best! (Even if Seth DOES ask to take my picture first thing on a Saturday morning.)

Have I rambled incessantly about mentioned how much we love our CSA and our farmers? When I picked up our vegetable share at the farmers market this morning I discovered these clever new market bags. Did I have to get one? Kale yeah! (Get it?) Check out The Weathervane Arrow, our source for farm news and fun, for the full story. Thanks, Caitlin and Seth!

Linocut in Progress: (Lucky 13th) Final Step

 I am off next week to head up the Arts & Birding session at Hog Island Audubon Camp in Maine , so I have been feeling the pressure to w...